Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Irish blasphemy law proposal

There is a proposed amendment to Irish defemation legislation including an updated blasphemy Libel law. Go here.

As TheObserver and Gary C point out. The article says:

"Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern proposes to insert a new section into the Defamation Bill, stating: “A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €100,000.”

“Blasphemous matter” is defined as matter “that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion; and he or she intends, by the publication of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.”

Where a person is convicted of an offence under this section, the court may issue a warrant authorising the Garda Síochána to enter, if necessary using reasonable force, a premises.

38 comments:

The Atheist Missionary said...

I can't resist. If they pass that law, do you think this would be enough to get me prosecuted? :
http://www.atheistmissionary.com/2009/04/i-wonder-if-jesus-started-to-smell-on.html

Steelman said...

The publishing of the basic tenets of any revealed religion that bills itself as the only true route to the attainment of paradise, and the avoidance of eternal punishment, should qualify.

So, will the Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims all be taking turns on filing complaints against each other? That way the police could organize their workload by, say, regularly raiding in turn church and mosque offices on different days of the week. ;)

Daniel said...

"[..]matters held sacred by any religion[..]"
Huh... finally!! What is "any" religion... Is the church of the FSM "any" religion? If so, i think this law opens many ways to annoy some other religions :)

Steven Carr said...

Is this a law against hate speech?

If religious people hate you because of something you say, you should be fined up to 100,000 Euros for inciting these people to hate you?

Anonymous said...

There is SOOO much subjectivity in that definition of "Blasphemous matter" that it is unworkable and so is a joke. Which makes the Irish a laughing stock.

theObserver said...

More on this story in this mornings papers :-
"However, a spokes-man for the minister said he was merely acting on the advice his department received from successive attorneys general and was solving a long-standing legal problem. This was because the Constitution already demands that there be a law against blasphemy. Article 40 says either publishing or speaking in a blasphemous way would be an offence."

This the article 40 referenced in the quote:-

"Article 40

6. 1° The State guarantees liberty for the exercise of the following rights, subject to public order and morality:

i. The right of the citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions.

The education of public opinion being, however, a matter of such grave import to the common good, the State shall endeavour to ensure that organs of public opinion, such as the radio, the press, the cinema, while preserving their rightful liberty of expression, including criticism of Government policy, shall not be used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State.

The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law"

Even the most fanatical RCC followers do not support this bill because it will give further ammunition to rival religious groups, such as Irish Muslim convert Mujhaaid. and his supporters.

Ireland32 said...

Has Ireland gone insane?

Ireland32 said...

Has ireland gone insane. Whats next, Gaelic Sharia

Ireland32 said...

Has Ireland gone insane, whats next, Gaelic Sharia?

Paul P. Mealing said...

In Australia, we have an anti-vilification law, but it's aimed at racial vilification.

It doesn't stop people criticising religious views; even politicians have publicly condemned some of the more outrageous statements made by clerics, in particular, muslim clerics.

But, obviously an anti-vilification law could be used against someone attacking a religion.

I expect the Irish have something similar in mind, but, by focusing only on religion, they miss the point in my view and will create a can of worms.

Regards, Paul.

Richard T said...

Isn't this more simply explained by protecting Holy Mother Church against child abuse squealers so they can be banged up by the Garda?

Paul Power said...

The public here in Ireland does not know why this proposal has been made. There has been no public discussion on blasphemy, let alone on a new law on the subject. The Supreme Court said it could not apply the concept of blasphemy in law (“In this state of the law and in the absence of any legislative definition of the constitutional offence of blasphemy, it is impossible to say of what the offence of blasphemy consists,” ) and a parliamentary all-party committee came out last year in favour of amending the constitution to remove the article mandating such a law.

see e.g. http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/mystery-surrounds-reform-of-our-laws-on-blasphemy-1725637.html (I can't see who wrote this but it's from our largest-selling broadsheet newspaper)

Also see the Irish Times' comments and letters section (at www.irishtimes.com) , as well this interesting report today: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/0501/1224245756970.html "The main churches were not consulted about the proposal to define the offence of blasphemous libel in the Defamation Act, The Irish Times has learned."

Geert A. said...

causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherentsThis law simply protects the intolerant from the people they loathe.

Mona Albano said...

It will be interesting when the Hindus take on the Meat Marketing Board and the Cattlemen's Association (or equivalents).

Sean Ryan said...

This insidious attempt to sneak religiously-biased laws into the Irish legal system at a time when people are being distracted by increasing and unending economic woes brought about by following of false beliefs and mythologies that appeal to the more selfish elements of human nature, is typical of the hidden agenda of elements of religiously-motivated politicians and the Roman Church, in particular, to collude in their hidden agenda. And what exactly might that agenda be? You might well ask, but if you take a look back over the misery-ridden pages of Irish religio-political history, with all their insidious collaborations to gain ultimate power, you might reconsider the situation.
It should be obvious to anyone who has two brain cells to rub together, that there will be a need for ultimate control so as to suppress the public at large from speaking out when the juggernaut of reality finally comes crashing through their front door. Religion-based methodologies of blind acceptance and adherence to the prevailing State dogmas, as originally constructed under the influence of the Roman Church, will be called into force to stifle any resistance to the crumbling of the so-called "morality of the State".
Exactly what "morality" does the State base its workings on? Take a hard look at the Irish Constitution, and you should begin to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
Once we unheedingly pass over into being a society of hobbled serfs, then the pain will finally hit the brain....but by them we will have nothing left to lose.
This law should be rejected as a devious ploy to limit the public's right to free speech. Remember George Orwell's 1984? He may have been a little off on the timing front, but not so far on the methodologies.

liam said...

This is an economic matter. Nothing to do with christanity,the government is scared witless of a repeat of the Danish cartoons fiasco.It only takes one idiot to create a storm that could see Irish good and services boycotted across the middle east.look the business of Ireland is business and our living standards depend on it.We have huge business interests across the middle east,more so than the Danes.So I accept this as an necessary evil.Any other comments are just naive .We are a practicle people,and we will do what is in our interest.Critics your welfare is dependent on wise government,you should be thankful that we have a government that has its eyes firmly on the ball.

Sean Ryan said...

"Critics your welfare is dependent on wise government,you should be thankful that we have a government that has its eyes firmly on the ball."


Hmmm...wise government? If they were so wise, how come we're now in the upper league of basket-case economies in Europe?
There are sufficient laws in this counrty to protect individuals from defamation, so to use subjective and religiously-grounded words like blasphemy ( http://dictionary.reference.com/dic?q=blasphemy&search=search )then how can such a thing be enforced or tested in reality when it is dependant on such vague terms as "causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents"? What exactly does "a substantial number of adherents" mean?
Does it mean that if a small sect of religious inclination who follow a different deity than the mainstream, and feels offended by anyone who is not of their persuasion, can call on such a law to allegedly protect them, and turn it into a form of perverse bullying?
The Irish Constitution is based on Christian ideas of a god only, and not on any other deistic following, despite its failing to define "God".

Anonymous said...

look, from what little experience i have had of the irish legal system, i seriously doubt this is going to cause too much trouble. The law itself is vague enough that before long it will be redefined into nothingness. That said, i do not agree with this, at all, but until i see some disasterous consequence of it, i refuse to let myself worry about it.

Anonymous said...

Article 40; 6 i of the irish constitution

i. The right of the citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions.
The education of public opinion being, however, a matter of such grave import to the common good, the State shall endeavour to ensure that organs of public opinion, such as the radio, the press, the cinema, while preserving their rightful liberty of expression, including criticism of Government policy, shall not be used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State.
The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.


Emmm... WHAT? just compare the 1st and last paragraphs...

Anonymous said...

The whole thing seems to be a bad idea. The idea that you can curtail what people say or view by using words like "The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.", could mean that Playboy magazine is "indecent".

Bad laws don't fade away...they lay dormant until some nutter with an agenda decides it might suit their purposes. This law is medieval in its substance, seditious in the root of its leanings, and completly at varaince with anything that might be considered reasonable.
Anyone know when it will be considered/voted upon?

A Reasonable Blogger said...

In reference to Article 40, what exactly is meant by "education of public opinion"? Maybe the question should be "education in what?" And how would they go about such an education? By passing laws to enforce the state's definition of "common good" in various media outlets!
Does this sound like a state that accepts the free will of its public, or one that feels threatened, needing to control?
From the looks of things, not much has changed since the Irish Constitution was founded. In an era when most countries are abolishing such archaic laws, some idiot decides it would be high time to start creating and enforcing blasphemy legislation!
Ask yourself "Why?"
Considering that most if not all religions are based completely on belief, which in turn could be based on basically anything any madman could dream up, the ramifications of such a religiously based law are immense. Anything could be deemed blasphemous to anyone. And as has been mentioned before, how many adherents is a substantial number anyway? If a religion has two adherents and they are both outraged, isn't that a substantial number of adherents to that particular religion, and therefore grounds for conviction under this proposed law?
As a good friend of mine once said:
"Bulls**t baffles brains."

Anonymous said...

"Bull**** baffles brains"....couldn't have said it better myself.
I'm definitely going to contact the main politicians who are showing at least some level of sense by questioning this medievalist nonsense.

theObserver said...

Word on the street has the bill dead on arrival. But I don't see any way for the Irish government to withdraw such a high profile bill without looking like complete idiots (which of course they are).

marinareal said...

Christian fundamentalist can hold back human and societie's evolution so much, Ireland reminds me a lot of Latin America... it's weakenesses seem so similar indeed. Religious heritage across continents.

Lucky England-Germany for at least breaking the holly biscuit a little, a least that has helped it's people re examine their place in existence from another more rational point of view!

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's quite interesting to compare how traditionally "Catholic" countries have tended to end up being the ones that crash and burn so easily e.g Mexico, Italy, Ireland. Then again if you are taught to accept blind faith in the unbelievable, then you will also let that brainwashing and avoidance of reality affect your thinking in other directions also.
I recently heard a priest say that maybe the downturn in the economy would cause people to "realise the error of their ways", and return to the "true faith" once more. It will be be interesting to see if and how Irish journalists deal with the proposed law change.

Clair said...

WTF?
Are you people losing your minds?
Why not just do it the way your ancestors did and simply eviscerate the offenders?
I mean, if you are going to act like superstitious living in shit morons, do it right!
Blasphemy Law, indeed!
What a bunch of wankers!

Anonymous said...

When a sinner had "blasphemed the holy name of god", or when he had perhaps told some truth about the local priest, it was customary to apply the holy trinity.

The Iron mask was heated in an open fire until red hot, then put upon his head.

The scourge, also red hot, was then applied to his back.

After the mask had cooled, it was removed from the sinner, taking skin (and usually eyeballs) with it.

The prisoner's mouth was then opened and red hot pincers were used to remove the prisoner's tongue.

It is interesting to note that the Holy Trinity was designed not to cause death, so that the maimed, blinded and mute prisoner could live out his days as a burden to his family and as a testimony to what happens when one lets his tongue wag too freely.

Anonymous said...

That was very informative, and althought it might have been a few years since the method was used I have little doubt that the base nature that lies just under the surface of many religiously motivated fantics would only too gladly use any legal leverage to gag anyone who might cast a hint of doubt on the existence or powers of their gods. This particular law is a primitive attempt to reinforce beliefs over reason, and should be defended against by any right minded individuals.

Mona Albano said...

And people wonder why there aren't more outspoken atheists in history!

Blasphemy is a victimless crime, because it offends only an imaginary diety!

Sean Ryan said...

Blasphemy is a victimless crime, because it offends only an imaginary diety!

All the more reason not to have such a primitive and subjective law on the statute books. As a species we seem to have degenerated into a collective of sheeple who are supposed to kowtow to the whims and fantasies of godmongering types who hide their inadequacies behind a veil of self-righteousnes and arrogance. The fact that an attempt is being made to slip fundamentalist laws that pander to the ranks of blind believers who have in recent weeks been shown to be amongst the lowliest of crawling things on the face of the earth, is symptomatic of the maliase of wilful blindness that hangs as a pall over not only the Irish nation, but over similarly afflicted and morally compromised peoples. The fact that governments still seek to prop up the peddlers of such leaning, is suggestive of their continued desire to harness the forces of indoctination and political corrrectness to keep people in a state of fear when things get tougher, as they surely will. When the public begin to finally and belatedly detect the enormity of the river of muck that is coming their way, the powers that be will need the tried and tested methodologies of religious censorship such as blasphemy laws to try to enforce public order.
Any nation that bows to these kinds of laws, deserves everything it gets.

Mona Albano said...

Exactly.

Except that one day I realized there are potential victims: the priestly class, who will go on living their soft life only if the flow of donations from the gullible continues: "A sudden thought."

Sean Ryan said...

Except that one day I realized there are potential victims: the priestly class, who will go on living their soft life only if the flow of donations from the gullible continues.

That's the core issue here when you take all the selfrighteous, and the frills and frocks away from these princes of darkness.
I wonder what the statistics are for the number of churches built, and the priests who died from starvation during the Irish famine.
I think that you will find that one of them will approach or equal zero whilst the other will quickly shoot towards the top of the chart.
Despite all the facts shown to them, the majority of blind believers will continue to pay homage to the god that allegedly favours these maladjusted ones, as their ability to think with any degree of reason seems to have been silenced by the generations of brainwashing and fearful following of meaningless rituals.

Psykobolik said...

Has it occured to anyone else that those most likely to blaspheme against a given religion are its own members. How often do you hear the word 'Jesus' mentioned in worshipful way as opposed to other less pious references. This could actually be very ammusing if enforced to that level (unlikely though).

Anonymous said...

Psykobolik said...
Has it occured to anyone else that those most likely to blaspheme against a given religion are its own members. How often do you hear the word 'Jesus' mentioned in worshipful way as opposed to other less pious references.

Well, it seems that the general theme of this medievalist law is that blasphemy is any act or statement that intends to deny the existence of the particular deity of any religion. However, as the Irish Constitution (and the Judiciary, who must swear an oath to the deity) only recognise the Christian god, (being of the three-in-one variety, it automatically sets itself up as blasphemous to other deists, such as Muslims, who only see their deity as a unitarian entity.
Politicians in Ireland have always facilitated the use of religious indoctination on the populace, as it serves to condition the collective mind into following rote methodologies of behaviour, which equally apply when they believe that they are exercising their free will "selection" of political masters according to varying levels of imaginary and false promises that have no real substance, as is the case in religions.
The human mind does not separate its thinking into religious vs real-world methodologies, but rather it applies what it considers and preceives as acceptable actions and reactions to previously conditioned training. These methodologies are first used when we are children, when we have no real sense of reason, and so we tend to simply accept the "you'll do what's good for you" prompt in an unquestioning manner, when it comes to other life choices, such as in election campaigns.
Have you never noticed the way that both priests and politicans use subtle imagery and promises of reward and a better life, despite there being little or no evidence of their being able to actually fulfill these pledges?
When this country goes deeper into mentdown, as it surely will, the State will need to use any and every form of control to deal with the "containment of the public". Religion is the one and sure tried and tested methodology of using fear to control disenters, heretics (those who choose). The gods of political correctness have succeeded in convincing us that we really shouldn't express our opinions in public, for fear of "offending" someone who cannot actually prove that their viewpoint is true and valid. Are we people or sheeple?

Anonymous said...

Many of the commenters seem to be failing to read the small print: "that is grossly abusive or insulting". That doesn't stop legitimate, intelligent criticism. There should never be any need for gratuitous abuse or insults to anyone, and those who want to preserve their right to be abusive or insulting should ask themselves why they can't make their point in a polite and civilized way.

Anonymous said...

Many of the commenters seem to be failing to read the small print: "that is grossly abusive or insulting". That doesn't stop legitimate, intelligent criticism. There should never be any need for gratuitous abuse or insults to anyone, and those who want to preserve their right to be abusive or insulting should ask themselves why they can't make their point in a polite and civilized way.

To a point you are correct, but the way that this very subjective and religiously biased law has been introduced to give this enhanced right to followers of religion only is what must be questioned. There are adequate defamtion laws in play already and the idea that anyone can defend a god is absurd in the extreme.
How would you describe "grossly offensive"? If someone says that they don't believe in Allah or God, then the follower of that sect might well feel that is "grossly offensive". To make such subjective and open laws on the basis of what someone might or might not "feel" is looking for trouble.

Monado said...

Unfortunately, Anonymous -1, "grossly abusive and insulting" is in the eye of the beholder and not the actor. Thus, I have seen Muslim reviewers state that portraying Mohammad in a biography of Mohammad is worse than insulting their mother and Catholic observers state that carrying a communion wafer away from the altar rail is a crime worse than kidnapping and that destroying one is worse than genocide. For some people, anything less than complete agreement with their superstitions is insulting. Personally, I don't want my degree of offensiveness judged by those people, because they are right down there with earlier judgements that wearing makeup or a bra is witchcraft and giving anything to relieve the pain of childbirth is blasphemy. (Supposedly a woman was burned for such a crime in 16th-C. Scotland, but I haven't looked it up myself.)

Frontastic said...

Haha, this is insane.
Tommy Tiernan's screwed!

Anyone else seen the movie Franklyn where religion is law? This could be the first step...